Ever set a goal for yourself and fail to get it done? Sure you have. We all have.
It might be that 6 a.m. workout at the gym we carefully planned the night before, or it might be attacking those emails that have been piling up for days.
Sometimes our commitments are even more daunting – like reducing 5% from the expense budget or having that dreaded conversation with an under-performing employee.
Despite our best intentions, being accountable only to ourselves for getting important things done is a system rife with flaws.
Now, it’s not like we’re all incapable of sustaining our commitments. After all, we couldn’t have become physical therapists without a healthy dose of self-discipline and an unwavering drive. We’ve all got that – but it’s not always going to be enough. It’s easy to sometimes let ourselves down from time to time.
It’s just that letting others down is much harder.
Looking someone in the eye, allowing them to read your uncomfortable body language, and admitting to failure. It makes me quiver just thinking about it.
The good news is this discomfort can be used as great leverage in our pursuit of execution. By making ourselves accountable to others, we will get some really important stuff done. And it’s easy to do.
Set an “Accountability Trap”
When setting a commitment, start by defining it for yourself – clearly. Tell yourself EXACTLY what you’ll do, and by when. If you need to be more disciplined with your spending, set a measurable and time-based target such as, “I’m going to commit to reducing my variable expenses next quarter by 5%.”
Once you’ve established your commitment, then you need to set what I call “the accountability trap” for yourself. The accountability trap ensures that you won’t be able to slide by with anything less than a valiant effort toward your commitment. Set your trap by voicing your commitment to someone who will hold you accountable.
In your business, your accountability options are plenty, but I prefer confiding my commitments in someone who I can trust to actually keep me accountable. Someone who I respect enough to care about what they think of me, and someone who respects me enough to hold me to task.
This could be a business partner, a member of your management team, or a mentor. The possibilities are endless as long as you share your commitment with someone who will actually keep you accountable.
Not only is this exercise as easy as it is powerful, but it also serves the benefit of modeling a culture of accountability within your organization. By demonstrating the importance of accountability for your own behaviors, those who you entrust to hold you to task are also learning an important lesson in accountability for themselves as well.
Performed strategically, you might be surprised at the difference this technique can have on a bottom line.
Try it out and let me know how it works. And if you need someone to hold you accountable, shoot me a line at email@example.com.